One of my fondest memories as a child, was when my parents would pack me sack lunches to bring to school. Opening up the plastic, Disney-themed lunch box and pouring the juice from my mini-thermos into the twist-on lid cup was enthralling, because it made me feel like an adult. Although my mother and father always provided me with their homemade sandwiches (and never the envied Lunchables that the "cool kids" got), I always enjoyed my sandwiches. I loved copying those classmates and peers who would stuff their lofty sandwiches with side-snacks, like potato chips and cheese crackers. Their sandwiches would be awe-inspiring, because they would have "double the filling" and they were "Dagwood-style." (You know, those ten-feet high sandwiches that are slathered with overflowing spoonfuls mayonnaise and mustard, and layered with zigzag cut petals of dill pickles, perfect squares of American cheese, and deli-thin sliced cold cuts?)
Through the years, somehow sack lunches lost their appeal and childhood mystique. Now, I find the flat, tasteless white bread sandwiches bland and uninteresting. As a full-grown adult, I now delight in another "all-in-one" sandwich, a sandwich akin to those child-assembled lunch sandwiches: the sloppy yet delicious pulled pork sandwich. Luckily, I had occasion to further reminisce this week, when my beau and I made large quantities of pulled pork sandwiches for a weekly study group gathering.
As a kid, I found sloppy joe or chipped barbequed beef sandwiches abhorrent. The spiced tomato sauce would always end up on my best school clothes, and I'd inevitably get a stern lecturing from my parents. Although pulled pork sandwiches are a close cousin to the sloppy joe or chipped barbeque sandwich, there is something "refined" about them that reminds me that I am an adult, but that simultaneously brings forth images of my favorite childhood summers. Maybe the adult feeling stems from the fact that there is cabbage inside the sandwich. Unlike potato salad, coleslaw always has always been a non-kid friendly picnic side dish.
I think what makes me feel most like a kid again, is the preparation of pulled pork sandwiches. When I tear apart the barbequed pork meat into wispy tendrils with my two forks, I am taken back to the playground sandbox, because I feel like a beeping yellow construction bulldozer shoveling and moving piles of shredded meat across the surface of the pork roast.
Furthermore, I find assembling the colorful shreds of carrots and red cabbage similar to my responsibilities in my childhood art class. To me, the final image of coleslaw is a colorful picture worthy being posted on the refrigerator with the kitchen magnets.
And don't you dare forget the two essential sides for pulled pork: creamy mashed potatoes (which you can playfully sculpt into gravy volcanoes on your plate) and corn-on-the-cob (nature's ultimate finger[s] food).
Thank you for sharing a moment with me that helps me to relive a part of my childhood, but still permits me to relish in my adult tastes.